5 Ways to Use Fleet Telematics and Aerodynamics to Boost Fuel Efficiency

For leaders in the trucking industry, finding ways to improve the efficiency and sustainability of operations is a challenging yet essential task. With diesel prices at historical highs, efficiency is a key component influencing a fleet’s average trucking cost per mile.

One groundbreaking technology has emerged as a beacon of hope: fleet telematics. According to a recent study, fleet telematics can slash fuel expenses by 20-25%. With such high stakes, understanding and deploying telematics for fleets are no longer optional — they’re essential.

This article examines the benefits of fleet telematics and how optimizing aerodynamics can help lower consumption and reduce fuel costs.

What Is Fleet Telematics?

Telematics is an interdisciplinary field that melds telecommunications with informatics. Specifically, telematics for fleet management refers to using advanced technology and data analysis to monitor and manage a fleet of vehicles. From tracking a single truck’s location to monitoring the entire fleet’s performance, telematics provides unparalleled insights for fleet managers.

Using telematics, each vehicle in a fleet captures and transmits data via a network of connected telematic devices. The system can collect multiple data points, including the vehicle’s location, speed, idle time, harsh braking, and even tire pressure or engine health. Fleet managers can use this data to make more informed decisions.

What Are the Benefits and Challenges of Telematics for Fleets?

Fleet telematics offers numerous benefits beyond the obvious advantage of improved fuel efficiency. Telematics for fleets can improve safety and productivity while extending vehicle life. With the insights from telematics, companies can also significantly reduce operating costs, meet compliance requirements, and deliver superior customer service.

However, as with any significant change, integrating fleet telematics can present challenges. Upfront costs for equipment and software, the need for employee training, and the potential for data privacy concerns are all factors to consider. A careful plan can overcome these obstacles, resulting in substantial long-term benefits.

Why Does Aerodynamics Matter for Fuel Efficiency?

Vehicle aerodynamics refers to how air flows around a vehicle while it is in motion, and it plays a crucial role in vehicle performance and fuel economy. Trucks generate drag and air resistance as they travel, which means the engine uses more power to overcome the friction, thus consuming more fuel. Reducing friction with aerodynamic devices can improve fuel economy.

The optimization of truck and trailer aerodynamics can include a range of techniques, from retrofitting aerodynamic devices such as side skirts or roof fairings to advanced designs in new vehicles. Even a small effort, like maintaining optimal tire pressure, can positively impact a vehicle’s aerodynamic profile and improve fuel efficiency.

5 Ways Fleet Telematics Helps Improve Fuel Efficiency

Fleet telematics is more than a tool for simply tracking vehicles or measuring data — it’s a powerful resource for optimizing fleet operations. Telematics provides valuable insights into improving fuel efficiency and reducing operational costs. 

Here are five ways you can utilize fleet telematics to drive fuel efficiency.

1. Analyzing Vehicle Aerodynamics

Understanding and improving vehicle aerodynamics is key to optimizing fuel efficiency. The more aerodynamic a vehicle, the less fuel it requires to move forward. According to estimates, long-haul trucks traveling at highway speeds use around 85% of useful engine power to overcome aerodynamic drag. 

This is where fleet telematics steps in. It enables the collection and analysis of detailed data related to vehicle aerodynamics, including air resistance and flow patterns. Using these insights, operations managers can identify areas to reduce aerodynamic drag and measure improvements in data once changes have been made. The positive impact on the bottom line can be substantial, as even minor aerodynamic adjustments can yield significant savings over a vehicle’s lifespan.

2. Monitoring and Coaching Driver Behavior

It’s not only the vehicle’s design that affects fuel efficiency but also how it’s driven. Research suggests that driver behavior can reduce annual fuel consumption by up to 30%. Speeding, harsh braking, rapid acceleration, and excessive idling are some behaviors that can lead to increased fuel consumption. 

Fortunately, telematics systems collect data on driving habits and patterns, allowing fleet managers to analyze and identify areas of concern. This real-time information can then be used for coaching drivers, promoting safer and more fuel-efficient driving habits. The result is twofold: Not only does this lead to reduced fuel consumption, but it also promotes a safer work environment for drivers.

3. Minimizing Excessive Idling

Excessive idling is a hidden drain on fuel resources, with some estimates suggesting that a single long-haul truck can consume 3.6 gallons of fuel a day just by idling. At $4.50 per gallon, that’s $16.20 per day of wasted fuel. That adds up quickly over time and across an entire fleet, leading to a significant resource drain. Idling also contributes to engine wear and tear, further increasing operating costs. 

Thankfully, telematics systems can accurately track and identify instances of excessive idling. By pinpointing when, where, and why idling is happening, fleet managers can implement specific, effective policies or provide targeted driver training to minimize idling times. This proactive approach results in substantial savings, reducing fuel wastage and associated costs, and prolongs vehicle life by reducing unnecessary engine use.

4. Optimizing Route Planning

Routing inefficiencies, such as long detours and traffic congestion, can increase fuel consumption significantly. Reports estimate that traffic congestion alone increases the cost of freight transport by nearly $75 billion annually — an expense that both producers and consumers must bear. 

Telematics systems, however, can combat these inefficiencies. They provide real-time data on traffic conditions, road closures, and even weather conditions, thus allowing for dynamic route planning. Using this data to plan and optimize routes, fleets can avoid obstacles, streamline operations, and significantly improve fuel efficiency

Moreover, telematics systems allow fleet managers to monitor trucks in transit, enabling them to make route adjustments on-the-fly as necessary, further enhancing efficiency. In a business where time is money, the ability to quickly and effectively react to unforeseen circumstances on the road is invaluable.

5. Enhancing Vehicle Maintenance

A well-maintained vehicle operates more efficiently, consumes less fuel, and has a longer lifespan. Fleet telematics systems play an essential role in keeping trucks in optimal condition. They monitor vehicle performance parameters such as engine temperature, tire pressure, and brake condition and track maintenance schedules. They can also provide alerts for preventive maintenance needs and help identify potential issues before they become serious problems. 

In addition, proper installation and maintenance of aerodynamic devices are critical to achieving and maintaining improved fuel efficiency. Well-maintained aerodynamic devices continue to reduce drag and save fuel over the long haul, ensuring fleets reap the maximum benefit from their investment.

Reduce Fuel Costs and Improve Aerodynamics With Fleet Telematics

Fleet telematics and aerodynamics are powerful tools to improve fuel efficiency, enhance safety, and optimize operations. TruckWings is a simple solution to improve truck aerodynamics and optimize fuel efficiency. 

When driving speed reaches 52 mph, TruckWings deploys without driver intervention, closing the gap between cab and trailer and reducing downstream turbulence. Increased back-of-cab pressure makes the tractor-trailer more stable and fuel-efficient, resulting in 3 to 6% MPG savings.

Check out TruckWings or contact us if you’d like to learn more about how fleet telematics and improved aerodynamics can transform your trucking business.

Telematics: The Trucking Technology Every Fleet Needs

While many businesses have recently begun adjusting to the challenges of a remote workforce, fleet managers have struggled with this setup for decades. How do you assess driver performance or evaluate vehicle health and efficiency from hundreds or thousands of miles away? The answer today is telematics. 

In this post, we’ll cover telematics trucking technology and its primary use cases, so you can decide which tech you need in 2023. 

What Is Telematics?

Telematics is telecommunications and informatics software that monitors truck and driver performance and controls specific functions. It typically includes a GPS component and can send, receive, and store data. Telematics systems may be embedded in newer-model trucks; they can also connect via a SIM card to an OBD-II or CAN bus port.

Telematics systems for trucks can increase fleet efficiency, improve driver performance, and prevent accidents and mechanical malfunctions.

Let’s look at how fleets can use telematics trucking technology.

Aerodynamic Improvements

Aerodynamic drag wastes fuel. To counteract that inefficiency, many fleets have turned to aerodynamic modifications over the years, with varying levels of adoption. 


Some aerodynamic solutions provide minimal benefit compared to their inconvenience. For example, while fleets can remove bug deflectors to decrease drag slightly, drivers might not appreciate having to clean their windshields at every stop. And some aerodynamic devices — like roof fairings — aren’t compatible with every make and model of Class 8 truck. 

A breakthrough in this trucking tech is TruckWings, an active aerodynamics device that automatically closes the gap between tractor and trailer when driving speed exceeds 52 mph. The wings collapse flat against the tractor when speed drops below 50 mph, so they don’t interfere with low-speed maneuverability. 

TruckWings requires no input from drivers, and it opens and closes quietly, so it’s not a distraction. 

Fleets using this low-maintenance, easy-to-install truck technology can see a 3-6% increase in fuel efficiency. TruckWings is also compatible with EV trucks, which can improve battery range. 

Case study: Learn how a 235,000-vehicle fleet improved its fuel economy by 4.1% using TruckWings.

Driver Monitoring 

Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are mandatory for all trucks and buses subject to hours-of-service (HOS) laws and help maintain compliance with federal regulations. But they don’t offer the detailed insights fleet managers can get with newer trucking technology.

Telematics sensors can help fleet managers identify unsafe driving habits — like speeding and following too closely. These sensors can also register excessive idling, harsh braking, and rapid acceleration, which are driving habits that decrease fuel efficiency. 

Driver monitoring technology has become more sophisticated in recent years. So, for example, instead of only measuring braking and acceleration, telematics systems can issue “driver scorecards” that take into account variables such as:

  • Truck type
  • Load type and weight
  • Transmission shifting data
  • Actual vs. potential fuel economy
  • Travel routes

These variables could impact job performance, so detailed driver scoring ensures fleet managers aren’t using criteria that unfairly penalize some drivers. 

Maintenance Monitoring 

Telematics can alert fleet managers to engine faults, improper tire inflation, and upcoming maintenance needs. This real-time information helps prevent costly service disruptions and dangerous vehicle malfunctions. 

Some telematics monitoring systems also integrate with maintenance scheduling features, so drivers and fleet managers can instantly schedule service when needed. 

Autonomous Platooning

Vehicle platooning is similar to drafting — a strategy in which race car drivers follow each other closely to reduce drag. Class 8 trucks, however, have a much greater stopping distance than small cars, so platooning could be dangerous if it relied solely on driver judgment and reactions. 

Autonomous and semi-autonomous platooning uses telematics to facilitate communication between trucks. For example, if the foremost truck in a platoon decelerates, the following trucks do the same simultaneously. This trucking technology could reduce drag and improve fleet efficiency, but some barriers exist. 

State laws vary widely regarding autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. Some states don’t allow autonomous vehicles of any type, while other states allow autonomous semi-trucks only. And minimum legal following distances vary by state, too. Without uniformity in laws from state to state, tech-powered platooning probably won’t work for long-haul operations — at least not yet. 

Collision Prevention

Driver fatigue, inattention, and excessive stopping distances are known risk factors for large truck crashes. Telematics systems help counteract these factors in a few ways:  

LiDAR and Emergency Braking

Forward collision warning tech and automated emergency braking (AEB) can significantly reduce the number of rear-end crashes involving large trucks. A study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that trucks with those two technologies had 41-44% fewer rear-end crashes than trucks without those technologies. 

These systems use LiDAR (light detection and ranging) technology to sense when a truck is following too closely, then communicate with AEB systems to engage the brakes and/or alert the driver to brake.

Video Intelligence Systems

Video intelligence systems for trucks also include forward collision crash prevention, but they work differently than LiDAR. These systems have a network of cameras monitoring conditions surrounding the truck and providing a live video feed inside the truck. They may also include a driver-facing camera that can help fleet managers identify when drivers are distracted or inattentive. 

Based on the information cameras “see,” the software can alert drivers to imminent crash hazards. These systems also virtually eliminate driver blind spots, which makes lane changes and reversing much safer. 

Dynamic Routing

Large fleets can’t rely on Google Maps to plan routes. Telematics is a better option, as it offers dynamic routing and stores route data, which can help fleet managers spot driving and delivery trends. 

Unlike Google Maps, dynamic routing technology helps fleet managers plan multi-stop routes, track trailers, and assets, and scale deliveries to accommodate fluctuating demand. 

Use Technology to Improve Fleet Performance and Safety

Trucking technology isn’t just another expense — it’s an investment that offers significant returns. With the right trucking tech, fleet managers can cut fuel costs, improve vehicle performance, and reduce the risk of accidents. 

TruckWings is one type of trucking tech that offers results right away. Installation takes about two hours, and trucks can be on the road. 

Five of the ten largest fleets in North America are using TruckWings to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions. Learn more about how TruckWings helps fleets save money.